November is not one of our best months here. Often, the foliage is past and the good weather is, too. Despite this, every November we look forward to the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club’s Annual Show, which always makes us reconsider our luke warm feelings towards this dreary month. The fun annual event only happens on four Saturdays and Sundays. Read on to discover how to make the most of this cool model train experience.

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Don’t Call it a Comeback, It’s Been Here for Years
It’s the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club’s Annual Show and it’s awesome. It’s a 60 x 70 foot homage to trains of the Portland to Bend and Wishram, WA lines. Here in tiny replica you and your trainiacs can visit all the sights and scenes of Oregon and Washington, much as they are in the groovy, great outdoors. You’ll see Union Station, Broadway and Steele Bridges, plus Multnomah Falls to name but a few. Further afield there’s Deschutes River Canyon and Wishram’s Railyard and Village. This is a labor of love and a throwback to days gone by, all in one viewing. Bring your fizzling fireboxes and feast your eyes.

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Cinders and Ashes
The Club has been around since 1947 and this is its third building, which they erected themselves. It’s easy to wonder why they needed to construct their own housing. But get this: it’s got fourteen-foot ceilings with flooring 43” off the floor. This way there is room for these devoted model train elves to walk under the floor and or on the layouts as needed. Plus! Layout under layout rests below the main viewing area. At any time they can stage up to 40 trains and build out three different yards.  That’s impressively true dedication.

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Model Trains Rock
The Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club is a non-profit of enthusiasts who come from all walks of life. They work super hard all year to showcase their talents to us, the public, for just four quick weekends. They love to see our junior conductors wide-eyed, excited and learning, and consider themselves lucky to be the gatekeepers of this hobby for the next generation.  And hey, if Keith Richards, Rod Stewart and Neil Young all still rock model train tables in their downtime, there’s gotta be a reason.

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Make Tracks: What to Know
Show dates are November 9-10, 16-17, 23-24 and 30-Dec 1 and show hours are 10:00 – 5:00 pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for kiddos 3-11. Private viewings can be pre-arranged for $15 but are not recommended for smaller engineers. Lotsa talk, not lotsa trains. Cash and check only and be sure to give yourself at least an hour to peruse the exhibit.

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In Model Trains We Trust
The gang at the CGMRC promise 4200’ feet of hip-hip-HO(ray) railroad, plus many, many rad models of vintage trains, steam engines, and even a 14 item scavenger hunt for the younger rail riders (Waldo, pink flamingos and Bigfoot – oh my!). Last of all, there are rumors floating of model train prototypes to be seen here and here alone. Get in on the ground floor one weekend morning or afternoon this November.  Who cares if the weather is frightful? We’ve got model trains!

Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club
2505 N Vancouver (just off the Fremont Bridge)
Portland, Or

— Liz Overson